Pre-Con Interview Series: Shauna Aura Knight
Shauna Aura Knight is a writer, mystic, teacher and artist coming out of the Mid-West Pagan scene. As a graduate of Diana’s Grove Leadership and Ritual Arts program, Shauna has become a well-known and productive facilitator of leadership and ritual design workshops.
Shauna Aura Knight’s biography states that she does workshops and writing around leadership, and transformative arts of ritual. As a first time participant and presenter at Pantheacon, Shauna is coming to the Bay Area to bring her Mid-West magic to the west.
What has inspired you to come to Pantheacon this year? Is this your first Pantheacon?
This is my first Pantheacon. I have wanted to attend for many years now. What inspired me to submit workshops this year was a conversation that you and I had at Pagan Spirit Gathering; you encouraged me to submit some workshops, and I thought, all right, now is the time and I will give this a shot. I think I could have very easily just kept saying, “Maybe I’ll try for next year….”
Anything in California you plan to see while you are here?
I am planning to visit JFK University. I have been interested in their Master’s Degree in Transformative Arts for several years now. And who knows; if things work out, I might move to the Bay Area for a few years to get my MA in the future.
What types of workshops interest you from this year’s Pantheacon schedule? If you could do five things this year at the Con, what would they be and why?
Every time I attend a festival or conference, I find myself wishing I could bi-locate. That being said, I definitely plan to attend your Restorative Community Circle, as I teach Pagan leadership an community building and I find that the Restorative Justice process has a lot to offer for the Pagan community, and I would like to learn more.
I also plan to attend Beyond the Pagan Top 40: Learn New Chants, as I’m always looking for new, good chants. As chanting is a core part of the ecstatic rituals I facilitate, and as I don’t have a good chant-writer on my team, finding new chants that are really workable is often a challenge. I’m also a total nerd for any opportunity to really play with harmonies in a group. As I often say when I’m teaching a chanting workshop, I wish I had everyone there when I’m singing in my car, because I can’t sing harmony with myself. I’m hoping to attend one or two of the other sound-focused workshops as well, but this one is on my must-attend list.
I’m looking forward to late night dancing to drumming and other music; dancing myself into ecstasis is one of the ways I connect to the divine, and I can never get enough of it.
I’m fascinated to attend Performative Mythology: Constellation of the Mythic Image, as I would love to bring more mythic spectacle into the ritual work that I do. For that matter, I’m a big fan of crossing the boundaries and exploring the edges between, was that a ritual, or an art installation? What’s a performance, what’s art, and what’s spiritual transformation, and what’s the difference?
I’m either going to attend Dancing In the Dark or the Spark Collective Fire Circle; both greatly interest me as I look to bring more new ideas and techniques into the ecstatic rituals I facilitate, and I’m fascinated to experience the Dance Elemental workshop in the slot before that, as I’ve wanted to work DJ’d techno/trance music into ritual, so I really look forward to seeing how that is facilitated as well as getting to experience it. Let’s see, I think that’s six, not five!
In general, I am really excited to see presentations and rituals not just by well-known Pagan authors whose work I admire, but presenters that I don’t get to see in the Midwest. I’m always looking for ways to refine my skills as a leader, as a ritualist, and bring more skills and tools back to the communities that I serve.
And, though I could easily double book myself in every time slot with workshops, I think what I always enjoy the most at events like this is the opportunity to meet new people and those fevered, excited conversations about shared topics of interest where we have no idea how it got to be 4am. I love the opportunities to talk about Pagan leadership and community building, techniques of ritual facilitation, chanting, trance work, and to compare notes.
You are teaching two workshops this year, tell us about them and what someone could expect if they went.
The Astrology to Understand Group Dynamics workshop is less about astrology, and more about understanding people and how we work together in groups. It will be two-thirds presentation and discussion, and one-third experiential “ritualette.” Authenticity in Ritual is the opposite—it’s one-third talky about the concept of effective ritual and authenticity, and two-thirds practicing hands-on.
The Group Dynamics workshop explores twelve archetypes of human needs as challengers. The tool was developed by Diana’s Grove founder Cynthea Jones, and I’ve put it into practice in the past years. I’ve found that this tool is a great indicator of potential strife and dysfunction in a group. Tensions arise out of failing to meet each other’s needs. Shame around our own needs become shadows, and our groups are only as healthy as we are. The need for praise, the need for affection, the need for a clear plan, none of these are bad on their own, but we each have different needs, and we seek to meet these needs with healthy or unhealthy strategies. If we can understand this facet of group dynamics, we can begin to derailing drama and conflict in our groups before it blows up. In the workshop we’ll discuss how this plays out in groups and how to use the tool to diagnose issues before they pop, and then we’ll explore the astrological challengers more experientially through a trance journey, chanting, movement, and energy work.
Authenticity in Ritual two-thirds experiential. First we’ll talk about what makes a ritual “good,” and then dive into how each of us can make that happen. The word authenticity gets used a lot, and consequently there are different definitions of it. The idea for this workshop came from my fellow Diana’s Grove-ean, Steve Smith, and we designed it for Pagan Spirit Gathering last year. Basically, we are trying to get people to:
1. Develop an authentic connection to an element, deity, archetype, ancestor, or whatever allies and energies you are working with, and,
2. Trust their voices and bodies to be able to bring that energy to the group through words, movement, and personal energy.
We’ll do some exercises to connect with an element or other ally, and begin to oracle, or bring forth words, inspired by that element. Together, we will work to move past the “I’m afraid I’ll forget my words” and even past the place where our words are poetic, but stilted and not genuinely inspired. By connecting authentically to our deeper selves, to the allies we work with, and to the energy of the group we’re working with, we can gain not only confidence as facilitators, but we can bring that unique magic of divine inspiration into a ritual. We’ll close with a short ritualette to show the progression of energy, and how each person engaging in the process and deepening group intimacy and connection builds group energy and brings the embodied magic that we so often try to achieve in our rituals.
You can find Shauna Aura Knight at the following workshops:
- 3:30 on Saturday in Riesling: Astrology to understand group dynamics
- 3:30 on Sunday in Riesling: Ritual Arts; Creating more magical rituals through authenticity. (Facilitated with River Higginbotham)
Thanks to Shauna Aura Knight for taking time to be a part of our Pre-Con Interview Series! See you at con!
Crystal Blanton reporting, Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area